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date: 12 July 2020

(p. 687) Rethinking Categories and Modules

Part IV focuses mainly on language-internal factors in change and the architecture of grammar that can best account for them.

The first section on “Cycles and continua”, organized by Ricardo Bermúdez-Otero and Graeme Trousdale (55), highlights the benefits for theory of addressing micro-change in addition to macro-change and addresses issues in pathways of change such as directionality. The similarities between phonology and morphosyntax are spotlighted with respect to recurrent large-scale trajectories, whether syntactic: Jespersen's Cycle (Wallage, 56), or phonological: vowel shifts (Dinkin, 58), changes in rhoticity (Hay and Clendon, 59), and lenition (Honeybone, 60; with some additional notes on the associated website). Chapter 61 by Sharma and Wiltshire concerns markedness continua in both phonology and syntax in the development of New Englishes. Adopting a Construction Grammar approach to change, Broccias (57) addresses the importance of thinking about continua across what have traditionally been treated as separate modules, notably syntax and lexicon.

The second group of chapters, organized by Roland Hinterhölzl and Ans van Kemenade (62), investigates ways in which word order changes that occurred between the Old and Middle English periods can best be understood in terms of interactions between information structuring, syntax, and to some extent prosody. The theoretical approach is largely that of Comparative Syntax. Particular attention is paid to loss of “verb second” syntax (van Kemenade, 63) and consequences for first position in the clause in ME and EModE (Los and Dreschler, 66; Los and Komen, 68). Taylor and Pintzuk (64) address issues of weight and complexity (details of data collection and coding protocols for this chapter are available on the associated website). Comparative work on Old High German has proved fruitful in working out the details (Petrova, 65). Speyer (67) discusses the interaction of stress clash and word order. Los and Komen (68) suggest that the loss of verb-second is directly correlated with developments in Modern English of the IT-cleft construction.

Closely related chapters in other parts include Rudanko (17) on aspects of the large-scale syntactic shift from infinitival to gerund complementation, and Hawkins (49) on word order change from a typological and processing perspective.